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post #12 of Old 11-20-2002
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How to tie up to a mooring

All right, I’ll get in on this one too. First of all NEVER hook yourself to an eye on top of a mooring buoy. I’ve often wondered why more law suites weren’t filed against the manufacturers of those balls anyway. The steel 3/8 inch thick rod used in those buoys was never intended to hold the strain of a cruising sailboat! Fortunately, I’m seeing more of the type where the chain is passing up through the center of the buoy through a PVC tube, and the smarter ones are placing their swivels there, on top of the buoy where they can be seen. If all that is available is the eye on the top of the buoy and you don’t want to get your hands dirty fishing for the bull ring, then move to another mooring, by gar!

When I find the appropriate mooring that I’m going to lay to over night, I put a bight in the middle of my 40-foot dock line and fish that through the mooring’s bull ring. Then I lead the bitter ends under the bight and haul it up to make a “cow hitch” on the ring. This can be done on an eye in the mooring pennants as well but it may be better here to take a round turn around the eye too.

Now, I have a bowsprit complete with a bob stay and whiskers, but even if I didn’t, I’d still lay both ends of my mooring line over the same rail and through the same chalk. This is going to cut down on the alternating strains and chafe on the pennant at the bull ring. It also means that the boat is going to lie slightly cocked to the wind and dance around a bit less. And yes, if I’m expecting a blow, I’ll lash on another pennant or better still, if possible, lie to my own anchor.

In the morning, it’s usually easy enough to work the cow hitch with the end of the boat hook and pull it free to cast off. This system has worked well for me except when picking up one of those CG moorings like the ones at Seguin Island, the converted “nun” sea buoys. These things start rocking on their own and take tension on the pennants which, in turn pulls the boat into the buoy! The only way to get any sleep up there is to make the shackle of the storm rode to the patent thing and pay out about 50–75 feet or so!

Oh, yea, PS. The best knot to lash to that eye would be a sheet or beckett bend. It might behoove you to make a double turn around it and finish it with a hitch on the standing part.
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